Keeping And Training Macaws As Pets Part I

The stunning plumage, exquisite colors, and proportions of Macaw parrots not only make them the biggest members of the Parrot family, but also make them a greatly coveted pet. They are the embodiment of a “Parrot” to many people, and their longevity (sometimes living up to 80 years of age) combined with their outstanding abilities, frequently demonstrated by performing parrots at shows and zoos, make them a popular option as a domestic pet.

However, few individuals who decide to have a Macaw are aware that the species requires unique considerations when it comes to caring for and teaching them.

There are Dwarf Macaws, Hahn’s Macaws, and several other species that are smaller members of the Macaw family, but for the purposes of this article, I am referring to the larger members of this group, namely Blue & Yellows, Scarlet, Military, and Green Winged, which are the most popular and are sold by breeders, pet shops, and other sources. I did not add the Lear’s or the Hyacinth since they are now highly uncommon and unlikely to be sold to the general public. I also eliminate Macaws that are destined for a life in an aviary. Their requirements vary from those of indoor pets.

Because all parrots have the average brain of a 4-41/2 year old kid, they are not well suited to being confined in a cage all day. After all, would you leave a four-year-old kid alone in a room all day? Obviously not.

Macaws, in particular, need a lot of area, not just for housing, but also for proper growth and well-being.
I own over 20 parrots and take in many more as vacationers, rescue, unwanted, ill-treated, and sick parrots, and the observations given above are based on my personal observations and significant experience accumulated over many years. The following tips are intended to help you consider carefully about whether bigger Macaws are the right pet bird for you. You can further explore somethingcheeky for more information.


Most Macaws will cost you between £1000 and £1800 if acquired from a breeder or a pet store, depending on the age and variety of Macaw. They will need a very huge cage that is robust enough to hold these powerful beaked birds. These are just the initial expenditures associated with purchasing the bird.


Macaws need a very sturdy cage in which to reside. To avoid the risk of zinc poisoning, it should ideally be made from a powder coated metal. Macaws, like other parrots, sharpen and clean their beaks on the cage bars, and if the cage is made of brass or conventional chrome, the bird will ultimately erode the top coating, revealing the bottom metal, which is commonly zinc. Every year, zinc poisoning kills a large number of caged parrots! These cages start at £295 and go higher from there. The smallest cage I would recommend for a single Macaw is 90 x 60cm with 2.5cm bar spacing. Anything less, and the bird’s big tail and vast wing span would be damaged while moving about in it. Even if you want to keep the bird in an Aviary, it is best to bring it inside during the winter months. You can also read about harm of Teflon in parrots.

Because these birds prefer to chew, the cage should have a nice sized perch and enough of toys to keep its incredibly busy mind occupied. When the bird is not in its cage, it will need a play place. A high-quality play stand made of powder-coated metal would be excellent. Again, prices start at £120 and go up from there. These play platforms must also include water and feeding facilities, as well as a selection of toys.
The location of the cage is also critical. Because these birds have been domesticated, they are unable to survive significant temperature fluctuations and must have their cage positioned away from drafts, but not in a window, as sunlight might cause the bird to overheat. The ideal choice is to position the cage against a wall so that the bird feels safe while yet enabling it to view outside if feasible. As a result, you provide both shade and light. At night, cover the cage with a dark covering. This will enable the bird to obtain the necessary 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep while also sheltering it from drafts and other disturbances such as automobile headlights, cats resting on window sills (which the bird would interpret as a predator), or anything else that might startle or disturb your bird.

Another important practice that must be maintained is cleanliness. Domesticated birds are often prone to several illnesses, and their recovery may be delayed or even deadly. It is critical to keep your bird cage clean at all times. Macaws, in particular, like flinging their food about, and if fruit or vegetables are left in their cages for more than a day, the food will rapidly get mouldy. Macaws also defecate often and in great quantities, which must be cleansed daily. Remember that while the bird is on its play stand, it will fling food and chew toys about, thus the space surrounding the stand will get littered with garbage. This might be an issue if you have pricey carpets. Also, Macaws, like many other parrots, are incredibly clever when their minds wander, and many parrots quickly discover how to open their “parrot proof” doors! As a precaution, secure the door with a high-quality chain and padlock. (Remember to remove the padlock keys.) I forgot one day and came home to find the bird out of its cage, the padlock on the floor, and the keys twisted to an unusable state in disgust!!).


Macaws, like many other parrots, need a diverse diet. Every day, they need a high-quality seed as well as a selection of fresh fruits and nuts. This might be costly, particularly during the winter months, but it is necessary for your pet’s health. Furthermore, since parrots are kept in captivity, their meals must be supplemented with vitamins and minerals. They need additional vitamins, such as calcium and vitamin A, as well as a solid supply of minerals. Fortunately, these nutrients are now widely accessible from reputable pet retailers and vendors. Shelled nuts, grit, dog biscuits, and beak sharpeners such as lava stone are additional concerns for Macaws. A Macaw that does not eat a well-balanced diet may quickly become unwell. Too much sunflower seeds, peanuts (which are toxic to parrots), or fatty meals will be hazardous to your bird.


Not all parrots are friendly to children, particularly tiny children, and their strong beaks, like in the case of the bigger Macaw, may inflict serious harm to a small kid. After all, Macaws can easily open a Brazil or a walnut, so think what it would do to a delicate finger! If you have children, you should consider twice before acquiring this sort of bird.


Another issue to consider is if you already have other pets in your house. Not all parrots get along with other pets including dogs, cats, and other birds. Other pets may accept each other over time, while others will take to them instantly, which is uncommon, and some pets will not tolerate another attempting to steal their owner’s attention. Because one kind of bird is brought to another or to the same species, it does not follow that they will get along. Furthermore, particularly with Macaws, they form attachments to their favorite person and might be hostile to other animals, birds, or even humans. When bringing a new Macaw into a household with an existing pet of any kind, careful integration is required. If a huge Macaw is suddenly permitted to descend on the budgie’s cage unexpectedly, a household with a pet budgie may risk it suffering a heart attack!!

There are specific procedures for bringing a new Macaw into a family that may be addressed directly with me if anybody is interested.


As previously said, a parrot, particularly a Macaw, should not be expected to stay in its cage all day. It will need exercise and will want to be with the rest of its “flock,” or family members. Macaws, in particular, are voracious chewers and will destroy furniture, wallpaper, dados, picture frames, and door frames. They will chew on these objects if they can get get to them. Even Macaws that are provided lots of toys and wood to chew on will seek and discover new pleasures to exercise their beaks if given the chance! When a bigger Macaw believes an object is worthy of its attention, it will not merely nibble at it; it will bite pieces out of it!! One of my friends’ Macaw was left in its cage in their freshly renovated and furnished lounge while they went shopping. Unfortunately for the owner, the cage had not been securely shut, and the bird had had a wonderful time. It had devoured the dado rail and door frame and peeled much of the pricey wall paper from numerous portions of the room, including the ceiling! Chewed a hole near the door in the new Axminster carpet, removed most of the curtain hooks, allowing the curtain to fall to the floor, which was then lovingly covered with half chewed strawberries and parrot poo, and finally rearranged the TV remote control buttons into a colorful pile on the floor. In 3 hours, the shades on her new chandelier were ripped, and the net drapes were given a fresh set of big holes.

So, if you are proud of your home and have spent a lot of money on it, ask yourself whether you can keep a watch on your Macaw all the time; if not, this is not the bird for you! The most efficient technique to let a macaw to “play” is to designate an area for the bird where any damage it may do is unimportant. Even if a Macaw is given much to do, it may sometimes walk off in search of other amusement! They are natural “chewers,” and they cannot and will not distinguish between your possessions and their own toys! In the wild, macaws will spend their days scavenging for food or chewing appropriate trees, and this is a natural habit that will apply whether the bird is free in the jungle or confined in captivity.

Normal parrot toys available for African Greys, Amazons, and other parrots are not sturdy enough for the ordinary Macaw. Parrot Toys that demand some mental work are great for macaws, which are highly curious birds that want to study, explore, and generally be nosy.

Macaws must have access to a continual supply of “chewables.” Chopped untreated wood is the most effective and cost-effective, and it is available at hardware stores in sacks. Apple branches are also delicious. Toys may be costly, and many people are surprised at how fast a Macaw can destroy one. One or two chewable things in a cage or on a play stand are inadequate to keep the bird entertained for an extended period of time. They also need continual variation in their toys since, like other parrots, they become bored with the same things. Normal quickie toys, such as toilet paper and kitchen roll inners, will vanish in seconds with Macaws. If these objects are to be utilized, fill them with goodies like dried apricots, pieces of wood, and brazil/walnuts, and they will last longer. Even so, the golden rule is to never leave a Macaw alone in a room for an extended amount of time; instead, check on the bird on a frequent basis; otherwise, harm will and does occur. This is not only irritating for owners, but the objects chewed are often harmful to the bird.


Not all Macaws can communicate. African Greys are the most chatty of the parrot species, although some Macaws can manage a few phrases and, of course, there is always the exception to the rule, so don’t contact me if you have excellent talkers! They speak more slowly than Greys. If you want a chatterbox, a Macaw is not the bird for you, and you should instead choose talking pet birds.


All parrots maintained as house pets must be taught, at least in the fundamentals, and with the bigger Macaws, this is critical, otherwise you may end up with a very huge bird that governs and even terrorizes the home and the rest of the family. The fundamental training should begin as soon as you get the bird since it will go through a hormonal and disciplinary period called as the “Dreaded 2′s” when it is 2 to 21/2 years old. If basic training has not been completed by this point, the bird may become difficult to manage on a daily basis.

Training a Macaw or any parrot takes a lifetime since one is always learning from these intelligent birds, but fundamental training may be accomplished in a very short period of time. The keys to success are patience, love, and repetition. With these components, a Macaw may become as loving and dedicated a friend as any pet dog, and they are sometimes considerably more amusing than our canine pals.
If this very clever bird is mishandled or ill-treated during the early training phase, it may quickly become aggressive, owing to fear. Also, if the bird detects a fear response in its handler, the bird will respond with even more anxiety, and voila, a biter with a huge and strong beak is born before the training has even begun! Aside from the beak, these birds’ claws are powerful, with the grabbing force of a vice. Fearful birds will also utilize their claws as a defense measure. As a result, combining the two may be hazardous.
One thing to keep in mind during the training is that parrots do not comprehend punishment; their minds do not grasp why they are being punished.

Gain the bird’s trust before commencing training by keeping it in a room that is regularly used by the family to orient it to people. Visit the cage on a regular basis and speak calmly to the bird, avoiding unexpected motions that might scare the creature. Allow the bird at least a week to adjust to its new environment.

Although wing clipping is a sensitive issue, I clip all of my birds as well as many others who have been sent to me for this service, but only in the proper manner, with both wings clipped and no closer than the primaries, and shaped to match the body line. I do not feel that this treatment affects or hurts parrots since, in my approach, the bird is not completely deprived of flight and can escape out of the path of a predator if necessary. This will allow for quicker and simpler training since the bird will not be able to fly away when it has had enough, and it will also allow the bird to have a higher quality of life by accompanying you into the garden, visiting friends and neighbors, and so on. Wing clipping must be done by an experienced individual or the bird will be traumatized.

Begin by providing the bird a titbit, or favorite food, through the cage door. Feeding the bird through the bars will result in a biting bird later on. Once the bird has taken the reward on many times, carefully put a stick or a spare piece of perch up to its breast, right over its feet. Remember that it is lot simpler for a bird to fly up than it is to fly down. If everything goes smoothly, perform this practice many times. Once you’ve mastered this technique, gently glide your free hand down the stick while providing a reward with the other. The bird should unknowingly walk onto your hand. Once this is accomplished, stop using the stick and instead extend your hand. Because Macaws may be heavier birds, a single finger will not provide a strong enough perch for your bird to feel comfortable. The bird will often use its beak to help it climb onto your hand. You must realize that this is not a bite, but rather a check by the bird to ensure that the perch is secure and hard enough for it to alight.

After you’ve completed this procedure multiple times, carefully stroll around the room with the bird in your hand. It may be perplexed to be delivered in this method, but it will quickly appreciate the experience. Your training with the bird has so started!

Part 2 will provide ideas and recommendations on basic training, bonding tactics, and how to make life enjoyable for both you and the bird while attaining outcomes that will improve both of your lives.

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